CHAPTER THREE: COMPARATIVE NATIONALISMS
One notably theme running throughout Johnstone's book has been the viciously condescending snideness applied to the victims of the war; Slobodan Milosevic receives far more empathy than Muslim rape victims. This second section of Part 2 "Slovenia: the End of Solidarity" is essentially four pages of pointless and irrelevant innuendo disguised as an expose. The theme of this section appears to be "Let me throw in any stray fact which might shed a bad light on the Slovenes."
Her first point is that Slovenian nationalism is what she calls "bureaucratic nationalism," which means that it was driven by an entrenched elite. The entire first paragraph points out that Slovenia is a small country, so independence allowed the republic's political, economic, and cultural elites to suddenly become big fish in the new big pond of independent Slovenia. Once again, the sophisticated and nuanced Ms. Johnstone is shocked and appalled to discover that sometimes, political and business leaders do not act entirely out of altruism and idealism.
The second paragraph claims that Slovenia's transition to democracy (which she puts in quotes--no explanation why) "had much in common with that of Serbia." The parallels she draws are legitimate if, considering that we are considering two republics in the same country, rather unsurprising--politicians were usually former Communist Party leaders, she notes, although why this should be surprising in a formally one-party dictatorship is not explained. She does attempt to slip in an aside about "nationalist dissidents who had been jailed under Tito" who joined the ruling coalitions; in Slovenia's case she names the previously mentioned Janez Jansa; in Serbia's--Vojislav Seselj. Nice equivalence there. Of all the things I can think of to call Seselj, "dissident" is pretty low on the list. Technically true or not, it is clear that is yet another example of her ceaseless efforts to create false equivalences.
Another insinuation she makes--both Milan Kucan and Janez Drnovsek were former Communists, yet nobody in the West complained about this like they did with Milosevic. The point, of course, is to imply that the real problem with Milosevic was that he was a socialist; a common Bosnian revisionist theme.
The next trivia she throws out is the case of Andrej Bajuk, the Argentine expat brought in to be part of the new Slovene government. After noting his right-wing credentials (ties to the Junta in Argentina; ties to conservative Catholicism), she briskly notes that the government he was to join after gaining citizenship was voted out of office, and he was gone. No matter--she gets to smear the Slovenes as fascists by proxy. Or so she seems to believe.
The final two pages concern Slovenia's involvement--led by Jansa, the former anti-militarist turned defense minister--in arms smuggling and covert arms sales to the Croats and Bosnians. The Slovenes apparently made out like bandits. It's not the most inspiring reading; but one wishes Johnstone could summon a fraction of the outrage she displays at Slovenia profiting from violating the UN arms embargo against all of the former Yugoslavia (which, naturally, benefited the well-armed Serbs at the expense of the ill-prepared Bosnian government; and which was applied to all the former republics even after the breakup of Yugoslavia, to which it was originally applied) when she discusses moral outrages like Srebrenica. I have remarked on this many times before, but it bears repeating--for all her pretensions to sophistication and hard-headed thinking, Johnstone consistently displays a naivety about international relations which makes her very hard to take seriously.
As for the snideness I mentioned above, here is the closing paragraph of this section:
"Slovenia, reported the New York Times in March 2000, is described by experts as "a jewel," "a chocolate box," or "Eastern Europe's best-kept secret." Indeed, Slovenia has its secrets, and if they are the best kept, it may be that interest is widespread in keeping them."
Thus Johnstone takes a parting shot at a sinister conspiracy which exists only in her own mind. The hyperbole is laughable.